When you look at the 2022 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD, what impresses you the most? Are you drawn to its multi-engine lineup and its sheer capability, or are you impressed by its seemingly endless options for customization? Are you enamored by its best-in-class 15-view camera system and its suite of innovative trailering technology that makes towing easier and less stressful? Or, do you appreciate the fact that Chevy finally introduced the Multi-Flex Tailgate to its heavy-duty workhorse lineup for 2022?
What exactly is the Multi-Flex Tailgate, and what inspired Chevy to design such a revolutionary tool, you ask? To put it simply, the tailgate is an astounding innovation that increases the usability of the Silverado’s bed and the versatility of the truck itself. As for it being Chevy’s invention, think again; that honor goes to General Motors, Chevy’s parent company.
How It All Began
Do you remember what you were doing in 2009? Jim Gobart, a high-school-educated technician, certainly does after a manager at GM came to him with a problem that needed solving. Hired to find ways to improve GM cars and trucks across every brand from Cadillac to Chevy, Gobart was happy to oblige. What was the problem? Gobart’s manager complained about the bed of his truck not being user-friendly for hauling. “Every time I take a pickup to Home Depot and load it with items, by the time I get home, the stuff has slid forward, and I can’t reach it,” the manager complained.
Gobart was determined to fix the issue and spent a few days designing a solution that he dubbed “Stairway to Heaven” after the Led Zeppelin song. Gobart’s idea was the start of what would eventually become GM’s MultiPro Tailgate and what would eventually make its way to the Chevrolet Silverado HD lineup as the Multi-Flex Tailgate, offering the same design and functionality under a different name. However, that journey wasn’t as easy as Gobart pitching the idea and GM running with it.
Obstacles in the Road
Gobart’s manager loved the idea and asked him to bring his vision to life with a mock version. Using two tailgates from the GMC lineup, Gobart spent a month cutting down and engineering the first iteration of the MultiPro Tailgate. With the prototype proving the idea was achievable and operable, GM was fully on board. So, what was the problem? The timing was bad.
America was at the apex of the Great Recession in 2009 and everyone, including GM, was in financial crisis. The ink was still dry on GM’s bankruptcy papers, which meant the company had little money to invest in new ideas. It was a catch-22: spend money they didn’t have to build a tailgate that would revolutionize the industry and put them back on solid financial footing or shelf the idea to save money with the hope that no other automaker would introduce something similar before GM had the chance. Knowing the MultiPro Tailgate would need to debut on the GMC Sierra, which was in the middle of its product cycle in 2009, GM decided to wait.
Behind Closed Doors
By 2014, GM was financially back on its feet and ready to pursue Gobart’s idea. The company sent the concept over to GM’s Innovative Clinic, a creative space for GM employees to contribute ideas, give feedback, troubleshoot issues, and find inspiration. Gobart took the feedback and, using five tailgates and seven tailgate handles, designed the second prototype.
Over the next several years, the Multi-Pro Tailgate was the best-kept secret behind GM doors. Hidden in a storage room that very few people knew existed sat a 3D-printed version of the tailgate. When Gobart and the team worked on the design, they covered and wheeled it out on a gurney to a private conference room. GM’s lead integration engineer, Derek Patterson, kept a list of everyone involved in the project, all of whom were sworn to secrecy over this revolutionary design.
Tested and Revealed
The Multi-Pro Tailgate was so revolutionary that GM knew the design not only had to be kept secret but also had to be thoroughly tested. The MultiPro Tailgate became the most tested tailgate in GM history, but that testing was well worth the wait and ensured its operability and functionality. By late 2018, the tailgate was finalized and made its official debut on the 2019 GMC Sierra. In 2021, Chevy also adopted the design as the Multi-Flex tailgate, a feature that would eventually make its way to the Silverado HD lineup for 2022.
Remarkable Design, Revolutionary Functionality
Regardless of a slight change in its name across automotive brands, GM’s revolutionary MultiPro/Multi-Flex Tailgate offers the same functionality for the Sierra and Silverado lineups. This functionality is showcased in six unique features that help you work smarter, not harder, whether you’re reaching into the bed for tools or loading and unloading cargo. The tailgate is adaptable, proving that your truck can work with and for you to make your job easier regardless of the task at hand.
The primary gate builds on the traditional tailgate design but adds convenience by changing how it can be opened. You can still use the handle on the gate, but you can also use a button on the key fob or a switch inside the truck. This means you can open the gate from wherever is most convenient for you, whether you’re sitting inside the cab finishing up paperwork or you’re standing across the lot at your latest construction site.
The primary gate also features a load stop that prevents longer items from sliding out of the bed, ultimately solving one side of the original problem that inspired Gobart’s design. When you’re not using the primary gate load stop, you can fold the inner gate down to reach farther into the bed. From this position, the inner gate then folds into a full-width step that can support up to 375 pounds, which gives you better access and firm footing for stepping into the bed.
The inner gate load stop solves the other part of the problem that inspired the MultiPro Tailgate. It helps prevent items in the second-tier of the bed from sliding out, which Gobart’s manager certainly appreciated. Gobart and the GM designers didn’t stop there, however, and extended the tailgate’s functionality once more by adding an inner gate work surface to give you a flat workspace and another convenient access point to the bed.
Problem Solved, What’s Next?
Gobart, a craftsman who races endurance motorcycles and snowmobiles in his free time, was simply doing his job when he designed the MultiPro Tailgate. He was presented with a problem and immediately set out to solve it. Although the timing wasn’t right, GM never gave up on Gobart’s revolutionary design and, eventually, brought his vision to life. That vision has since earned widespread acclaim from drivers around the country who are reaping the benefits of one man’s ingenuity that started back in 2009.
Today, the MultiPro Tailgate continues to change how drivers use their trucks. So, what does that mean for Gobart? With his name on ten other patents with GM, there’s a good chance we’ll see more from the inventor and problem-solver who had a hand in revolutionizing the American truck segment as we know it today.